The Glenville Democratic Committee has called on town Supervisor Chris Koetzle and a Republican campaign committee to return campaign contributions that exceed the legal allowable limit under state Board of Elections rules.
The Democrats pointed out three contributions made to Friends of Chris Koetzle in May and June that exceeded the limit. Two of them — a $2,000 contribution from HPC Wireless and a $1,200 donation from Schenectady developer Maddalone & Associates — were mistakenly accepted because of a misinterpretation of state Board of Elections rules, said Koetzle.
While businesses can give as much as $5,000 to various candidates and campaign committees in a calendar year, the recipients of that money can accept no more than $1,000 in a municipality with fewer than 20,000 active voters, according to state Board of Elections rules. In Glenville, a town of 20,251 active voters, recipients can accept up to $1,012.55.
This distinction is where the confusion came in, said Koetzle.
“The reported overages will be returned to the donors,” he said. “We have enthusiastic supporters who want to help spread the positive message of all the progress in the town and want to help fight the massive, one party-rule Democratic county machine.”
The other donation Democrats pointed to — a contribution of $1,559 from Dave Hennel — was simply a keystroke error in which the check number and not the donation amount was placed in the wrong field, he said.
“An amendment is being filed to fix that clerical error,” he said.
Glenville Democrats also called on Focus on Glenville — a committee established in 2009 to elect Alan Boulant, Sid Ramotar and Thomas Coppola to town positions — to return illegal campaign contributions. The committee’s present-day website includes campaign literature for Boulant, Ramotar, Coppola, Koetzle and Town Board candidate James Martin.
Focus on Glenville accepted four contributions in February and March that exceeded the limit: $2,500 from Shady Lane Realty Inc.; $1,250 from M.J. Engineering; $1,500 from Bake-Rite International; and $1,250 from Transtech Systems Inc.
Boulant, a Town Board member running for a seat on the Schenectady County Legislature, said the committee’s lawyer is looking into the cited contributions, but any potential wrongdoing would have been inadvertent.
“Could we have made a mistake without knowing it? We’re looking into it,” he said. “I don’t think we did, but we’re checking. I would pay the companies back if we accepted excess funds. We don’t play games. We’re not the ones running a smear campaign.”
Both Koetzle and Boulant pointed out Glenville Democratic Chairman Joe McQueen issued a news release with these allegations during work hours on a weekday. McQueen works full-time as a spokesman for Schenectady County. He said Wednesday he was out of work sick when he issued the news release.
“Clearly this is a sad and desperate attempt by the Democrats who have no issues, no record and no vision to try to change the focus away from our positive record of progress with economic development and fiscal conservatism,” said Koetzle. “They’re running a campaign that isn’t gaining any support in the community, and they have nothing left to do other than start slinging mud.”
McQueen said a formal complaint has been filed against Friends of Chris Koetzle and Focus on Glenville with the state Board of Elections. He called on them both to immediately return any excess contributions in order to “maintain a fair and level playing field during this election.”